Hello dear reader.
In my search for classics fit for illustration I went and recently red, for the first time, Robinson Crusoe. I have a few classics to illustrate in mind like the obvious Alice in wonderland and Gulliver's travels. But I am also considering illustrating the tale of Tristan and Isolde, The baron of Munchausen, The perfume by Patrick Suskin, The alchemist by Paolo Coelo, The prophet by Khalil Gibran, Faust by Goethe, The idiot by Dostoievski and other Moliére's and Shakespeare's classics. As you can see my interest is broad, ranging from long psychological novel, symbolic literature, children story and up to comic theatrical play. In short everything that I red when I was a kid eager to read all that came to me through my dad, my teachers and friends.
No, I am not going and to illustrate The lord of the ring, no.
So, here I am, about to review the first novel of English literature history: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. I actually don't want to make it a review but rather a first impression little essay. In one word what is my impression? Disappointment. Why? I think that I red this book way too late. First of all, 400 years to late! For I bet at the time of Daniel Defoe, this kind of realistic novel was brand new and opened the way for a whole new genre in literature. Since then, the history of novel has made it full circle and unravelled the corners of all imaginable realities. Robinson Crusoe has influenced much and many later comer with which we grew up, such as, Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones and Indiana Jones. So at my age, and in such an age we live in, filled with action movies packed up with counter-twists to the the anti-twist twist, I have to say my sense of surprise has been pretty much tamed down to the bones. That is not to say that Robinson doesn't bring its load of surprises and unforeseen events, but honestly it feels very much linear to me. And when something out of the ordinary happens along the story it feels inconsistent, put there by necessity of up-holding a certain rhythm to the story.
My main issue with this book was actually my expectation. I heard so much of this story, watch so many movies about it, that made of it something so different in my mind. I had my version of it in my head before beginning reading it, that I anticipated too much. In short I wanted it to be what it was not meant to be: a story of return to nature and the melting of man's mind with the soul of the world. A very romantic version of it indeed. I wanted it to look like a Henri Rousseau painting.
Instead, it looks to me as, first, a timid attempt at pleasing the church by constantly reminding the reader about God's providence and the great one benefactor behind all calamities. And secondly a demonstration of the dominance of progress and technology over innocence and evolution. Evolution wasn't a thing at all at the time anyway, so let's say the slow and blunt pace of nature's cycles. That's what the book is made of: a strange mixture of subjection to God and to logic.
Robinson only touched transcendence through the use of the Book and the use of his guns. His mindset, barely develops along the story. He is and stays Robinson throughout. Everywhere Robinson goes, it is barbed with guns and powder, armed to the teeth in anticipation of an attack from nature.
Nevertheless the story is a superb, beautifully written, account of how people used to think back then and how society looked like and on what values it was operating.
Now my dream of what is Robinson is broken for good. But not my intend to illustrate it. I already began sketching a little. And with my notes at my side I will continue to illustrate the scenes that seem visually interesting . I also have a funny book cover in mind. Now, let me show you a couple of early doodles.
That's where I stand now. It will take a while before I settle myself on a definite style and colour palette. But overall things look promising and I am looking forward to exploring further Robinson's universe. Things could pan out differently, and I may decide to focus only on the wider story of shipwrecks in general or lone men in nature. Time and practice will tell.
That's it for today. Thanking you reader if you have followed me that far. Please do not hesitate to leave a comment and share if you like.
Wishing you a very good week and commanding times ahead. Since then, see you next week for... another episode of Trail of colour! Peace.